Benjamin Klein was the first person in Orange County to die from COVID-19. The veteran passed one month shy of his 100th birthday.
“Jordan said to him, 'Grandpa, are you worried about this virus, the coronavirus?' And he said, ‘No, I’m not worried. … I went through the war, that was worse,’ ” said Klein’s daughter-in-law Lisa.
Klein’s family describes him as indestructible. He was able to bounce back from anything that stood in his way.
“But every time he got sick, or he had fallen and maybe broke something or did break something, he always bounced back," Lisa said.
Lisa and her husband Tedd were able to visit Ben in the hospital before he died. They were also able to FaceTime each family member so Ben could speak with them. They say if there’s one thing people remember about Klein, it should be that he isn’t just a statistic.
“He was a flirt,” Ben’s son Tedd said. “Whenever he went into the hospital, the nursing staff when I would come to visit him would go ‘Oh, we love him!’ and I’d say ‘good; I rent him out for parties.’ ”
Family members also say people need to understand the importance of staying home. They hope the community can learn something from Ben’s death.
“When they say be self-contained, you aren’t doing it for yourself, you’re doing it for the community. No matter how tough things were, that generation always found a way of getting through it always, and that’s what we have to do," Tedd said.